Another year, another player leaves- not necessarily on his own terms. Saint Louis forward, Luis Santos, was suspended indefinitely and withdrew from the university September 25th after an unspecified violation of team policy.
The talented big man was gearing up for a big year after sitting out last season after transferring from the University of South Florida. This news brings another story of what could have been as well as another mark for the Billiken’s basketball reputation.
From a basketball standpoint this is a disappointment since Santos was expected to play a key role in the lineup as a potential starter. The former four-star prospect out of Bronx, New York had the frame to dominate in the paint both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. At 6’8” 250 pounds he would have served nicely alongside star big man Hasahn French.
Santos showed promise at South Florida shooting 55 percent from the floor and averaging 6.2 ppg and 4.1 rebounds in 2016-17 with the Bulls. An anticipated jump was to be made this season, especially with a lineup containing much more star power than his former team.
Now Carte’Are Gordon will look to fill his open spot. This aspect is the least of the Billikens’ concerns since Gordon appears to be ready to succeed right away and would have potentially passed up Santos for playing time in the lineup. It also opens another roster spot for the 2019-20 season in which Coach Travis Ford will look to continue his hot streak of recruiting and give him more options to fill gaps as players graduate or potentially get drafted.
However, the larger concern is off the floor. The list continues to grow for SLU players violating team rules and withdrawing because of it. Last season, four players were suspended, 3 of which eventually ended up withdrawing from the program after a Title IX investigation.
While the violation is unspecified and will most likely remain that way given Santos’ quick exit, Travis Ford needs to make sure this does not happen again. While a violation of team policy can be something as small as missing a curfew or showing up late to a meeting, the list of this happening in recent history is too long for players making immature mistakes at a school that prides itself with a better purpose.
Ford has shown to care for his players and has seemed to keep things under control in times of adversity for the most part. However, with the spotlight growing larger, SLU cannot have these actions happening, especially days before the start to the season. SLU has a reputation to uphold and must make sure players aren’t hurting the program’s reputation as well as their own moving forward.
Luckily this was addressed just before the season kicks off, giving the Billikens one last shot at solidifying the roster for the 2018-19 season and handling anything that might be a distraction.
The Billikens will be fine without Santos and recover well from the loss, but it is painful to add another chapter to what could have been to the books. It should be a wake up call to the program to make sure everyone is in line and ready to put their best foot forward both on and off the court.